Sunday, May 24, 2009

Down Into the Basement

     Do you collect things, Company?  I know a lot of people do.  I am one of them.  Stamps, porcelain figurines, coin.  I have never collected any of those things.  But one of the things that I did collect almost religiously in my wild and younger days were keychains.  Yeah, everyone had a collection of keychains, maybe a bag of them or a junk drawer with like seventeen of them wedged in there.  That doesn't count as a collection, I am sorry to inform you.  But most people had some keychains somewhere, so I know that you are not terribly impressed.  I went all out, however.  I had one of those big boards with all the holes in it on the wall with the metal hooks and I hung a keychain on each hook.  Oh yeah.  It was sweet.
     WAKE UP!  I know that you are bored to tears having the hear about my keychain collection.  But there is a point here, kids.  The point is that the keychain I had on my ring wasn't cutting it.  It was one of my most favorite ones, it was from about 1978, it had Tweety Bird on it and it said "Great America," which is a theme park near Chicago and which is one of the many, many Six Flags.  And people call it Six Flags now days but anyone who grew up going there still calls it Great America.  Anyway, that's what I had, but it was getting all scuffed up in my pocket with my keys and change and strippers phone numbers and whatnot, and so in the interest of not ruining it I went down into the basement to get a new one from my collection.
     When I went down there and into the corner that has always served as my play area, I was sort of taken aback.  More stunned than anything.  Because while I was down there I was climbing over and around and through piles of all the shit of my childhood.  Toys and games and stupid frivolous things that I had made, all saved up for some sort of reason, and I was struck by just how good I had it.
     And it sort of made me wonder how good my kiddos will have it.  When I ask my mom about why she keeps the boxes of Micro Machines and Lincoln Logs and Matchbox cars she notes that she is saving them for my kids, or my sisters kids or whomever.  But the more I get to thinking about it, if my kids get all that stuff, PLUS all the stuff that I buy them, that's going to be way too much stuff.  It will be more than they can ever play with.  Even if I don't buy them a PlayStation 7 they still won't be able to cope with all the stuff that is thrown at them.  You know what that means?  I am not going to have to buy my kids any stuff.  How do you feel about that?  And what if my kids aren't interested in the same stuff as I am.  What if all they like are Barbie Dolls or their drum set?  What is going to happen then?
      Well that brings me down to the point.  Like any good detective, I take all the evidence from the scene as a whole.  The fact that some of my elementary school artwork and a super awesome Wisconsin map puzzle that I drew all over, as well as some strange random newspaper articles still exist down there tells me that my mom just can't bring herself to throw them out.  And I can't say I blame her.  She will go on and on about how it is not a high priority and she doesn't know what I want to keep if you call her on it, but I am thinking more that the old softie just feels more comfortable having them down there for some reason.  Or at least I am hoping that is part of the deal.   Because, to be honest with you, Company, I sort of feel more comfortable with all that stuff still down there.  Plus, it fascinates me to see it and go through and remember.  And sometimes it makes me ask why I would have kept some of that stuff.  And sometimes it makes shake my head at what a little dorkball I was.  But mostly what it does it reminds me what it is like to be a kid, which helps me immeasurably when I am wondering why a certain kid wanted that certain thing they wanted.  Unfortunately that is something that adults often don't understand.
     So all that went through my mind while I was standing down in the basement, and in the process of trying to sort it all out in my mind a great sadness set in.  I sort of began longing for those days, which of course you can't get back.  Time is like that, it's always going in one direction.  You can't turn this Oriental Express around and go back to Constantinople.  But that's just the way it was.  And so time and feeling made it so I had to get out of the basement.  And I am quite happy with the bat and baseball keychain I picked that says "Life's A Pitch."  It's prefect.  My basement was perfect.  The moment was perfect.  Strange things happen when you venture down into the basement, no?

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